NCDC, Partners Launch Research Project on Mpox

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Veterinary Research Institute, the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, the Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford, the United Kingdom Public Health Rapid Support Team, and stakeholders in Lagos and Rivers states on Monday, launched a multi-disciplinary research project to address the knowledge gaps on mpox.

The mpox research project “Epidemiological and clinical investigation of mpox in Nigeria: A multi-disciplinary research project to inform case management and outbreak prevention and control,” is to help improve the public health response to the mpox virus in Nigeria and beyond.

Speaking at the launch of the research project in Abuja, the Director-General of the NCDC, Ifedayo Adetifa, noted findings from the research project would play a key role in strengthening detection, prevention, response and control in Nigeria, and inform practice across the world.

Adetifa, who was represented by the Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response at the NCDC, John Oladejo, said: “Today, we begin the journey of knowledge, unity, and determination. In partnership with dedicated researchers and institutions, we set out to unravel the unknowns of mpox, bridging the areas of clinical and One Health studies. This is a significant start in mpox research.

“This project symbolises our unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Nigerians, and in turn the world, embracing the power of research, and the strength of collaboration. As we work together, may we move closer to a world free from the threat of mpox, ensuring the wellbeing of generations to come.”

A co-project lead from the NCDC, Chinwe Ochu, also stated: “the mpox outbreak in Nigeria had a profound impact on lives, particularly among key populations, emphasizing the vulnerability of marginalized communities. The NCDC played a pivotal role in mitigating this crisis. This collaboration underscores the critical importance of surveillance and understanding transmission within the One Health space, where collaboration across human, animal, and environmental health is imperative to protect our global well-being.”

On her part, co-project lead, Deputy Director for Research from the UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team and Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Gwenda Hughes noted that the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team was delighted to be part of the exciting collaboration between NCDC and other partners to better understand the clinical characteristics, pattern of infection and spread of mpox in Nigeria – a disease that had greatly affected Nigerian communities, especially in recent years.

“The UK-PHRST will support Nigerian colleagues to answer important scientific questions through this extensive research programme and will also help deliver training of local laboratory staff and field teams. Our microbiology specialists have already provided lab equipment and shared expertise to help build local diagnostic capabilities for mpox. Ultimately, through co-creation and by taking a partner-led approach with our Nigerian colleagues, our aim is to support improved case and contact management and inform the development of effective control measures for mpox both in Nigeria and globally”, Hughes said.

The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Adaeze Oreh, said the research project marked a significant milestone in the country’s mission to improve its understanding and provide evidence to strengthen mpox outbreak prevention, response and control.

The research project titled “Epidemiological and clinical investigation of mpox in Nigeria: A multi-disciplinary research project to inform case management and outbreak prevention, and control, according to her, was commendable.

The project will be completed over two years and will cover thematic areas such as the clinical characteristics and natural history of mpox disease, the essential epidemiological parameters and factors associated with infection and transmission, and the experience of people infected with mpox and those close to them.

It was learnt that two studies on mpox will be carried out to address the thematic areas- The Clinical study and the One health study.

The clinical study will help address knowledge gaps in the clinical understanding of the virus and the natural history of infection. While the one health study will help to increase understanding of the dynamics of infection and transmission in the Nigerian context.